FIRST ON CNN: Romney camp tries to manage fallout from Libya response
September 12th, 2012
12:00 PM ET
2 years ago

FIRST ON CNN: Romney camp tries to manage fallout from Libya response

De Pere, Wisconsin (CNN) - Facing criticism for its aggressive and politically-charged response to Tuesday's violent attacks on the American embassies in Egypt and Libya, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is quietly advising Republicans how to respond to questions about the campaign's handling of the episode.

In talking points currently being pushed to Republican leaders and top surrogates, the Romney campaign recommends attacking President's Obama "foreign policy of weakness" and dismissing questions about how the campaign responded to the crisis last night.

A sample response, as proposed by the Romney campaign officials in Boston:

"Did Governor Romney 'jump the gun' last night in releasing his statement?"

"No. It is never too soon to stand up for American values and interests."

Read the full list of message points from the Romney campaign, provided to CNN by a GOP source, below:

MESSAGE POINTS: Attacks On America's Diplomatic Missions In Libya And Egypt

Surrogate Message Points: Attacks On America’s Diplomatic Missions In Libya And Egypt

Top-Line Message:

– We join all Americans in grieving for the four American patriots who lost their lives in yesterday’s attacks and send our condolences to their loved ones.

- This is a time for America to be firm and resolute – and to make clear beyond any doubt that America will not tolerate attacks on our own.

- The violence against the American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt underscores that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is sorely needed.

– Over the last several years, we have stood witness to an Arab Spring that presents both opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region, but also great peril if the forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events.

We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring is not followed by an Arab Winter.

– American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region do not spin out of control.

– We have seen a foreign policy of weakness and decline in American influence and respect. Yesterday, we saw the consequences of this perceived weakness.

– America cannot send mixed signals to either our allies or our enemies.

– We must not be afraid to use our influence to support those who share our values and interests – and to stand firm against those who threaten them. America cannot shrink from its responsibility to lead.

Questions & Answers:

Don’t you think it was appropriate for the embassy to condemn the controversial movie in question? Are you standing up for movies like this?

– Governor Romney rejects the reported message of the movie. There is no room for religious hatred or intolerance.

– But we will not apologize for our constitutional right to freedom of speech.

– Storming U.S. missions and committing acts of violence is never acceptable, no matter the reason. Any response that does not immediately and decisively make that clear conveys weakness.

– If pressed: Governor Romney repudiated this individual in 2010 when he attempted to mobilize a Quran-burning movement. He is firmly against any expression of religious hatred or intolerance.

Reports indicate the embassy in Cairo released its initial statement before the invasion of the embassy commenced. Doesn’t this show they were trying to tamp down the protest and prevent what ultimately happened, not sympathize with the protesters?

– The Administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions.

– Distancing themselves from the statement and saying it wasn't ‘cleared by Washington’ reflects the mixed signals they are sending to the world.

– American leadership needs to be decisive and resolute when our interests are threatened or attacked. For the last four years, this has been lacking.

– We have seen a foreign policy of weakness, indecision, and a decline in American influence and respect – and yesterday we saw the consequences.

– If pressed: The Obama campaign is now attacking Governor Romney for being critical of the same statement the Administration itself disavowed. This is hypocritical.

Did Governor Romney “jump the gun” last night in releasing his statement?

– No. It is never too soon to stand up for American values and interests.

Full Romney Statement:

“Americans woke up this morning with tragic news and felt heavy hearts as they considered that individuals who have served in our diplomatic corps were brutally murdered across the world. This attack on American individuals and embassies is outrageous, it's disgusting. It breaks the hearts of all of us who think of these people who have served, during their lives, the cause of freedom, and justice and honor. We mourn their loss and join together in prayer that the spirit of the Almighty might comfort the families of those who have been so brutally slain.

“Four diplomats lost their life, including the U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, in the attack on our embassy at Benghazi, Libya. And, of course, with these words, I extend my condolences to the grieving loved ones, who have left behind, as a result of these who have lost their lives in the service of our nation, and I know that the people across America are grateful for their service and we mourn their sacrifice.

“America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We will defend also our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion. We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.

“I also believe the Administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions. It's never too early for the United States Government to condemn attacks on Americans, and to defend our values. The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn't ‘cleared by Washington.’ That reflects the mixed signals they’re sending to the world.

“The attacks in Libya and Egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed. In the face of this violence, America cannot shrink from the responsibility to lead. American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region don’t spin out of control. We cannot hesitate to use our influence in the region to support those who share our values and our interests. Over the last several years, we have stood witness to an Arab Spring that presents an opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region, but also poses the potential for peril, if the forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events.

“We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring does not become an Arab Winter.”


Filed under: 2012 • Foreign Policy • Mitt Romney
soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Romney has NO room to speak on affairs of Foreign Policy, seeing as how, well, he has NO experience in foreign affairs WHATSOEVER.

    September 12, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. Timmeh

    Oh BS, this is a non issue manufactured by Obama's media to cover his NON response and apology. We need a commander with balls for a change and not give a half hearted response to a direct attack on OUR embassy and ambassador!

    September 12, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    “We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring does not become an Arab Winter.”

    I've completely lost track of this man's thought processes. I really have.

    September 12, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. Michelle

    Reblogged this on Republican and Democrat Daily and commented:
    He isn't the President... he should not be making any statements on behalf of anyone other than himself and his family.

    September 12, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. Martha in CF

    Sorry republicans.....this could have happened under anybodies watch. Quit trying to have an answer to it. It was tragic. Enough said......

    September 12, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. zanny

    Everyday you embarass yourself and your party-both republican parties( conservatives and nut jobs) I do not know who is pulling your strings when you speak – wee know by now it isn't your thoughts because so afr you cannot remeber where you stand on anything. If you lose this election, the blame goes behind the scences because somebody or bodies is giving you really bad advice. I(n the Constitution under free speech are three unprotected forms of speech and one of them is fighting words. The mocking of Mohammed in the video to Muslims is fighting words and if you really knew the Constitution like you say you do, you would know that. There is no defending that video under free speech. As per your speech in initial reaction you probably would defend the CRAZY Florida minister who burned the Koran as free speech.

    September 12, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. Georgia Girl

    Once again, you go out "guns a blazin", uninformed and don't know what you are talking about. Mitt the twit, we need a cool head as our Commander and Chief, not a TWIT and a LIER! If you are bored and want something to do, go back to one of your 10 or 11 homes and count your billions. Because you will not be President. American military will not be your toy soldiers.

    September 12, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    The person who want be next president of America taking a more extreme position on this shows his lack of knowledge

    September 12, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. Namejkane sfl a vote for the gop will cut your moms medicare and soc sec .can you afford to pay for them???

    Romney your not president and never will be ,maybe you should run for president of Libya !!!

    September 12, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. zp

    Obama has been apologizing for America his entire presidency all around the world. Our service men and women are in harms' way, and they know this administration does not have their back. American needs a new Commander-in-Chief who exudes strength and loyalty to our nation, our military, and our values!

    September 12, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. Al-NY,NY

    Flip.............flop...........He's at it again.

    September 12, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. 1crusader

    Everybody in this country should be afraid, and very afraid to elect Romney.He is totally out of his league, and doesn't know what he's doing.

    September 12, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Good News. Mitt Romney really is a job creator. Time to hire some more fact checkers, folks.

    September 12, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    @Timmeh
    Oh BS, this is a non issue manufactured by Obama's media to cover his NON response and apology. We need a commander with balls for a change and not give a half hearted response to a direct attack on OUR embassy and ambassador!

    September 12, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
    *****************************************************************************************************************************
    THREE WORDS FOR YA: OSAMA BIN LADEN

    September 12, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. Craig RB

    Romney's response was disgraceful. Too bad he doesn't have the character to say something more temperate, measured & wise during a very delicate time. His statements were very Hannity, Rove, Priebus (sp?), Limbaugh combined. I do believe Romney just put another nail in his campaign coffin.

    September 12, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. zanny

    Timmeh – who do you suggest since Romney so far has show a lack of any "brass" in any of his thoughts(or others thoughts he uses). He doesn't even know what he believes in. On his recent trip overseas look how many people he offended. P.S. In yesterday's agrement by both parties to not run negative adds to honor 9-11, guess who ran a negative add during the Baltimore Orioles game last night – Mitt Romney.

    September 12, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  17. Daniel Locke

    Shame on Mitt Romney for trying to stage a lie-based political attack before the bodies were even cold. Even conservative pundits, even Republicans with foreign policy experience - they know how wrong this was.

    September 12th was the day Romney's campaign officially entered desperation mode. It is very clear now that Mitt Romney is unfit for the highest office in the land. He is unfit to be POTUS.

    September 12, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. robforaker1

    Where was Romney during other events regarding ambassadors abroad around the world? I thought horror and fear when CNN made a 'GAFF" of their own by trying to promote Romney during a national event.. Please don't throw CNN's candidate in our faces....

    September 12, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  19. sonny chapman

    He really stepped in it this time; the smell will linger for a long time.

    September 12, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  20. HOLY TIGHTY WHITIES WILLARD

    The Administration has no control over someone's free speech. Free speech in return incited violence as it has the capability of doing. There needs to be a line drawn when it comes down to free speech and hate speech. Clearly this so called movie incited hate.

    September 12, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  21. Expat American

    To Romney:
    Again, save your tough talk for your concession speech. The number of those taking you seriously is dwindling by the hour.

    September 12, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Having retired from the business world, I can tell you that this is classic American CEO damage control. You are commanded not to speak of the leader's mistakes but pull out all stops to defer questions and try to make him not look like the bad manager he really is. Romney is used to being able to threaten his subordinates and fire the ones that don't cower and comply. The problem he now faces is, the fact that he can't fire the American voter. Romney and Ryan are banking their entire campaign on the voters that do not dig for the truth.

    September 12, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  23. Rick McDaniel

    Romney simply told the truth. Obama did nothing. Not only has he done nothing, he sent 50 Marines in there, to risk their lives, for nothing. So we can have a diplomatic mission, in a country of fanatics????

    The stupidity of this administration, is appalling.

    September 12, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Maynard

    If Mitt wins, WWWIII is on. Israel will drag us to this war that will never end.

    September 12, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. Tabeth

    Friends,
    How can this killing in Lybia be politicised? Who does not know the reaction of Muslims? Why then allow such a movie?
    does the freedom of speech above the respect of someone else religion? Should american musilm, Buddhist enjoy the respect of their fellows citizens? If we hate their religion why did we allow them in the first place to come in?

    September 12, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
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